Reblog: What Christians Get Wrong About Sexual Abuse

At many conservative Christian colleges, identifying what the victim is responsible for becomes a central part of how administrations interact with them. Counseling processes and disciplinary actions all have a common bent: What do you, the victim, need to repent of? Where are you at fault? While this line of questioning is probably well-intentioned, it is based in a lie that abusers would love for us to continue believing: that victims are complicit in their own abuse.

It is absolutely vital that Christians do the hard work of earnestly evaluating how our beliefs about sin and redemption can create opportunities for abusers. Creation, Fall, Redemption—that is the glorious story of our faith. But Jesus also called for us to be as “wise as serpents,” and the New Testament is filled with pleas from the Apostles not to be deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

–Read the full post by Samantha Field at What Christians Get Wrong About Sexual AbuseRelevant Magazine


The Burning of St. Louis Church Distresses Fond du Lac

Please note: This is NOT about the churches burning in St. Louis, MO.  This was written years ago when Fond du Lac’s St. Louis Church, a beloved landmark, burned down.  This post was prepared and scheduled MONTHS AGO to post in October.



Story and Photo.

Video of Burning and Aftermath:

Video Tour of Church Before it Burned:

If you watch the videos, you’ll hear that St. Louis Church meant a lot to this town.  The flag on Johnson Street nearby appears to be at half-mast.

When the congregation was about to be moved into another building and the church demolished, a local group worked tirelessly to preserve the church.

And it is right across the street from my church!  When I went to Pre-Sanctified Liturgy last night, I heard all sorts of stories.  The streets were barricaded, but local traffic could get through.

The night of the fire, the police called one of our churchwomen, who was on their contact list.  She rushed to our own church to fetch various items from the office and the altar.

She wasn’t supposed to go behind the iconostasis, where the altar is, but she did anyway because it was an emergency.

She had to be allowed in the church by a policeman because they were afraid the fire would spread and/or the other steeple would come down across the street, crushing the buildings there.

Apparently she was alone for a while, because Alliant Energy cut the power (in case the church fell on a nearby power line), so there was no phone service.  She didn’t know who to call before she went, because it was very late and the Parish Council President keeps early hours.  Our priest lives in another county.

Another churchwoman who lives nearby saw the fire when she took her little dog for a walk.  She went into our church, and so did one other person.  All three worked that night to salvage what they could.

Our priest said it’s a good thing the wind wasn’t going the other direction, or else the fire would have spread to the nearby houses, the Salvation Army, and our church.  Incidentally, I used to go to the Salvation Army to help with the youth group when I went to a different church.

When our priest spoke about it at the end of the Liturgy, I saw a first-generation Greek immigrant who looked on the verge of tears.  She is a very pious woman, wears her heart on her sleeve.

Our priest said that 90 years ago, the Greek Orthodox community bought our building from the St. Louis congregation and converted it; it used to be a school.

Last night, there was police tape all the way across the street, blocking off half our parking lot, and a policeman on guard.  And the police cars were patrolling Johnson Street, which is right next to Macy St., where the churches are. I kept hearing sirens after church, and it got me jumpy because I’m afraid what’ll happen when the steeple falls.

One guy said at church that he checked behind our altar for soot, and there was none, but there was a lot of dust.  One of the ladies said, “If women were allowed back there, there wouldn’t be any dust.  You know who made that rule?  Men!”  😀

(Of course, I’ve read that the rule is actually, no laity are allowed back there without a blessing–and if a woman has a good reason and the blessing of a priest, bishop or abbess, she can go back there.)

This was adapted from an e-mail written to my close college friends and Richard on March 21, 2007.

Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Here are many of the wonderful things that first attracted me to Orthodoxy.  I had to wonder how many people reading their service books with such rapt attention as I did on the evening of Good Friday, 2008.  My comments are between the quotes:

…for through Your Burial You opened for me the portals of life; and by death You have put Death and Hades to Death.

ie., This is why Christ had to die. It’s not just about punishment for our sins: It’s far more than that, and far more glorious and powerful.

You stretched out Your arms and united those who were divided of old. Restrained by the shroud and tomb, You loosed those held captive, who cry out: ‘There is none Holy, save You, O Lord.’

There is that good ol’ Orthodox theology, using contrasts, showing how Christ died so that we could have life.

O uncontainable One, You were sealed in a tomb of Your own will; and You made known Your Power through Your Divine actions to those who sing.

It was of Christ’s own will, not something the Father forced on Him.

You descended to the depths of the earth to fill all things with Your glory; for my person that is in Adam was not hidden from You; and being buried, You renewed me from corruption, oh Lover of mankind.

You have revealed the symbols of Your Burial by many visions. But now, You have manifested Your secrets as God and Man, even to those in Hades, O Master.

Foreseeing Your Divine self-emptying on the Cross, Habakkuk cried out in amazement: ‘You cut off the power of the mighty, O Good One, speaking to those in Hades, as the Almighty.’

When Your soul was separated from the body, the bonds of both Hades and Death were shattered with greater strength by Your might, O Word of God.

Hades in encountering You, O Word, was embittered, beholding a mortal deified; covered with bruises, yet all powerful. Wherefore, it shrank back at the awesome sight.

You transform the mortal by death, and the corrupt by burial; for as befits God, You have made incorruptible and immortal the nature you assumed; for Your body, O Master, did not see corruption, nor was Your soul abandoned as a stranger in Hades.

Verily, Hades rules the race of mortals, but not forever; for You, O Mighty One, when placed in the tomb, demolished the bars of death with Your Life-giving Hand, and preached to those who slept there from the ages of old the true redemption, becoming, O Saviour, the First-Born of the dead.

This is the Harrowing of Hades, when Christ preached to the dead in Hades, then brought out the righteous into Paradise.

There are many in the various denominations today who say this is not really what happened, that it’s one of man’s traditions distorting a vague passage of the Bible, even though “He descended into Hell” is in the Apostle’s Creed.

I’ve even seen the Apostle’s Creed altered.

In the Evangelical Free Church, someone once asked, “What about the people who died before Christ’s death?”

The pastor said, “We don’t know.  We think they were able to go to Heaven if they believed in the promise of the Messiah.”

Which is entirely different from what my Nazarene dad taught me.  He taught me about the Harrowing of Hades, though he didn’t use that term.  What he taught me was very close to the Orthodox teaching, though there are differences.

Also, the ancient Israelites were not big on evangelization, so only small pockets of people would have believed in a Messiah.  I also wonder how early and how prevalent a belief in a Messiah was, anyway.

I’ve held onto the hope for all my life that the pagan dead of the Old Testament were saved when Christ preached to them in Hades, so it was devastating to hear this teaching may be wrong.

When I discovered the Orthodox teaching of the Harrowing of Hades, it was a great relief.

Verily, Jonah the Prophet was caught, but not held in the belly of the whale.

For being an impression of You, Who suffered and was given over to burial, he sprang forth from the whale as from a chamber, and said to the watchmen: ‘Falsely, and in vain do you guard, O watchmen; for you have neglected your own mercy.’

Showing how the Old Testament prefigures the story of Christ even in its own stories.

The fall of Adam resulted in the death to Man, but not to God; for though the substance of Your earthly body suffered, Your Divinity remained passionless, transforming the corruptible into incorruption, and showed it to be the fountain of Resurrection for immortal Life.

The Godhead of Christ was one with the Father and the Spirit, without separation in the tomb and in Eden, for the salvation of us who sing.

Answering the question many have: Did God die on the Cross? Did God suffer?

Written in 2008

Index to my theology/church opinion pages:

Page 1:

End Times and Christian Zionism 
God’s Purpose/Supremacy of God Doctrine 
Cat and Dog Theology 
Raising One’s Hands in Worship 
Christian Music 
On the “still, small voice” and Charismatic sign gifts
On church buildings 
The Message Bible 
The Purpose-Driven Life 
The Relevance Doctrine, i.e. Marketing Churches to Seekers 
Republican Party 
Abortion Protests 
The idea that God has someone in mind for you 
Literalism in Biblical interpretation

Page 2:

Name it and Claim It Doctrine, Prosperity Doctrine, Faith-Formula Theology, Word-Faith Theology,  Positive Confession Theology, Health and Wealth Gospel, and whatever else they call it
More about Pat Robertson
Dr. Richard Eby and others who claim to have been to Heaven
Women in Marriage/the Church
Spiritual Abuse 
Other Resources 

Page 3:

Why do bad things happen?
Should we criticize our brethren’s artistic or evangelistic attempts?  Or, how should we evangelize, then?
Angels: Is “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti a divine revelation or fiction?
Halloween: Not the Devil’s Holiday!
Hell and the Nature of God 
Is Christmas/Easter a Pagan Holiday? 
Is everybody going to Hell except Christians?
How could a loving God who prohibits murder, command the genocide of the Canaanite peoples? 
What about predestination?
Musings on Sin, Salvation and Discipleship 
An Ancient View which is in the Bible, yet new to the west–Uncreated Energies of God

Page 4:

The Didache 
Technical Virginity–i.e., how far should a Christian single go? 
Are Spiritual Marriages “real”?  (also in “Life” section, where it’s more likely to be updated) 
Does the Pill cause abortions, or is that just another weird Internet or extremist right-wing rumor?
What about Missional Churches, Simple Churches, Fluid Churches, Organic Churches, House Churches or Neighborhood Churches?
Is Wine from the Devil–or a Gift from God?
What is Worship? 
Evangelistic Trips to Already Christianized Countries
Fraternities, Sororities, Masonic Lodge 
Was Cassie Bernall a Martyr?
Some Awesome Things heard in the Lamentations Service (Good Friday evening) during Holy Week

Conversion Story

Phariseeism in the Church